Tom & Jerry Meet Jonny Quest

Since 2001, Warner Brothers has released direct-to-DVD animated features featuring Tom & Jerry. The newest release is set for June 25, 2015 and features the cat and mouse teaming up with Jonny Quest in an adventure titled “Spy Quest.” It seems like such an odd team-up that I have to watch it when it is released. Other Tom & Jerry animated films have teamed them with Sherlock Holmes and The Wizard of Oz but this is the first to team them with another Hanna-Barbera creation.

Plus, I’m a big Jonny Quest fan so hopefully this will spark a renewed interest in that franchise and receive some animated feature films of its own. I don’t mind the straight-to-DVD format for these. The Scooby-Doo and DC Comics ones have been successful and Jonny Quest would fit that format.

Here is the trailer for the film.

Lost in Space - Animated Series

Sci-Fi Sunday: Lost In Space – The Animated Series Pilot (1973)

SciFi Sunday
Welcome back to another episode of Sci-Fi Sunday and while what we are sharing today might not be quite as awesome as The Mini-Munsters from the last Saturday Frights, we still think it’s pretty special. It’s the 1973 offering from the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, the pilot in fact for the Lost in Space animated series! This pilot differs a little from the original live action series in a few key ways. Dr. Smith (The only returning member of the original TV show cast) is aboard the ship as a passenger and not in an effort to sabotage the voyage and kill the Robinson family. While the Robot is present it is named Robon and is used as a flight control for the Jupiter 2 instead of tagging along with the crew. The crew itself is different as we now have Craig Robinson and his younger brother Link along with a geologist named Deena Carmichael who is on board because she is headed to the Saturn space station.

So pop up some popcorn and grab your favorite beverage as we take in a viewing of the Lost In Space animated series pilot here on Sci-Fi Sunday. The show is split into 7 parts so just follow the link to watch the rest of it!

[Via] Hembrestan

Drak Pack

1968 Yogi the Bear Anti-Smoking PSA

In this PSA from 1968 Yogi and Boo Boo discuss the vice of smoking and why it is so cool. Okay, they are a lot more anti-smoking in this PSA than that. They basically say that people who are smokers started before people knew it was bad and now people start because those people are doing it already. So why not them!

They then shift into trying to shame people who lack willpower into quitting.

I wonder if the cigarette they stomp out in the beginning was dropped by Fred Flintstone?


Classic Cartoons and Classical Music

I’m relatively certain that I would have had little to no exposure to classical music without having watched copious amounts of cartoons. Those of us fortunate to have grown up during the 1970s will undoubtedly have feasted our eyes on a steady diet of viewing after-school and Saturday morning cartoons. In these days of having to fiddle with rabbit-eared antennas to gain clear reception of only a handful of channels available over the (gasp!) airwaves, the animated fare was made up of mostly 1940’s-era Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the occasional Walt Disney shorts. As we entered the early 1980s, there was a new means to see animation at home, in the form of the videocassette recorder. The occasional trip to see a Disney re-relases at the movies and the ever-present television set were my windows to the world of classical music. Having grown up in a working-class household, there wasn’t a dearth of exposure to things classical. Here are a few of the pieces of animation that musically impacted my young life.

My mother took me to the 1977 re-release of Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940), when I was only 5 years old. I have a very vivid recollection of the gorgeous, color-saturated ballerina hippopotami and Chinese mushrooms dancing around to the strange, yet beautiful-sounding music. What I remember best is being inspired by the interaction between the luminous silhouetted forms of Mickey Mouse and Leopold Stokowski to whip the straw out of my soda to conduct along with the maestro—much to the chagrin of both my mother—and the theatre-goers within the splash zone. As an added bonus, I received the LP record of Fantasia, so that I could go back into my room and re-imagine the magic I had just experienced.

The next recollection I have of classical music making an impact on me was in 1983, when we got our first top-loading VHS videocassette recorder. My folks went over to the local Wherehouse store to rent a few videos for my sister and I. In the stack of Strawberry Shortcake, He-Man, and Felix the Cat tapes, the diamond in the rough was the Walt Disney “Storybook Classics” which contained the 1946 “Peter and the Wolf” short, based upon the Sergei Prokofiev work of the same name, (originally a segment of the feature-length film, “Make Mine Music,” but was deemed good enough to be included as a short before the ’46 Fantasia re-release). The short begins with an explanation of how each character is thematically represented by an instrument, or group of instruments (honestly, how else do you communicate the concept of the “leitmotif” to children?). I was engrossed in the story of cherubic, red-nosed Peter’s desire to disobey his Grandfather’s wishes and head out into the Russian winter to hunt the wolf—armed only with his self-determination—and a cork-tipped toy pop rifle. Peter, represented musically by bouncy strings, sneaks out of the house, even after having received his grandfather’s bassoon-laden warnings about the dangers of hunting the wolf. Along his path to locate his lupine prey, Peter comes across a small, fluttering bird (flute), a lumbering duck (oboe), and a nimble cat (clarinet)—all three of which learn that Peter is on his way to dispatch the menacing wolf, and decide to become members of his intrepid hunting party. After following a snowy path to find their prey, they accidentally back up into none other than the wolf (3 horns). The wolf gives chase, seemingly catches (and eats) the duck, and runs the remaining three up a tree. The wolf climbs the tree and seemingly traps Peter and the cat on a branch, as the bird escapes to find help. The bird locates a group of adult hunters, and alerts them to the fact that Peter is being endangered by the wolf. By the time they arrive to save Peter, they find his hat and pop rifle in the snow—thinking the worst has happened—yet look up to see that Peter and company have saved the day. The wolf is hogtied to a branch, and the hunters parade their young hero back into the village, with the spoils of his hunt still hogtied, but to a spit. Peter is welcomed back into the village as the conquering hero—with traditional Russian dancing to celebrate his derring-do.

Evidently, 1946 was a watershed year for the infusion of classical music in cartoons, as also evidenced by the Academy Award winner (Best Short Subject: Cartoons), M-G-M’s Tom & Jerry short, “The Cat Concerto.” The cartoon begins with a dapper, tuxedoed Tom walking onto a stage with a grand piano at its center. He takes his seat at the piano, and begins a very austere rendition of “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” by Franz Liszt. Jerry, who is nestled down for an evening’s rest on top of a few the piano hammers (with adorable mouse-sized clothing on a line above him), gets a surprise awakening when his makeshift bedroom starts moving around. Jerry pops onto the ledge above the keys, and he begins to mock Tom by faux conducting at him. This enrages Tom, as he proceeds to thump Jerry back into the belly of the grand piano’s wires. Jerry continues to torment Tom by running under the keys, shutting the cover onto Tom’s fingers, replacing a few keys with a mousetrap (via a door with a Doric arch [why do all cartoon mice have these?]), and working the hammers from the inside—changing the music into a boogie-woogie rendition of “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.” Tom finally gets a bit of revenge by placing Jerry into the piano bench, but Jerry works the mechanics of the seat to raise and lower Tom onto the piano with a slam. Tom then throws Jerry back into the piano, where Jerry breaks off two hammers and completes the Rhapsody, leaving Tom spent and collapsed face-down at the keys. Jerry exits the piano in a tuxedo to the rapturous applause of the concertgoers.

According to animator/director Eric Goldberg’s DVD commentary (found on the Warner Bros. disc “Academy Awards Animation Collection: 15 Winners”), “The Cat Concerto” was made at the same time as WB’s short, “Rhapsody Rabbit”—which features Bugs Bunny playing the exact same Liszt piece. Both studios utilized the same film lab, Technicolor, who allegedly delivered M-G-M’s short to Warner’s and vice-versa. According to this story, Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera screened the Bugs short, and worked at a breakneck pace to finish their Tom & Jerry to ensure it was done in time for MPAA consideration screenings. As the shorts were screened in alphabetical order, “The Cat Concerto” was seen first, and became 1946’s Oscar darling.